Hill and McCoy back, but LB need persists

Leroy Hill's return to the Seattle Seahawks on a one-year deal means two-thirds of the team's 2011 starting linebackers are in place.

It does not alleviate the need to address the position in the draft.

Seahawks LBs

The Seahawks, in announcing one-year deals for Hill and fellow linebacker Matt McCoy, can still easily justify using an early-round draft choice for a linebacker later this month.

Hill started all 16 games last season, the first time he played every game in a regular season. He played 87 percent of the defensive snaps and had four sacks, Hill's highest total since collecting 7.5 as a rookie third-round choice in 2005.

Hill remains the favorite to start on the weak side. Coach Pete Carroll has said he would prefer to keep incumbent starter K.J. Wright on the strong side, although Wright could also play the middle if necessary.

Veteran Barrett Ruud, signed from Tennessee in free agency last week, provides insurance at middle linebacker after starter David Hawthorne left for New Orleans. It's an upset, however, if the Seahawks do not seek a starting linebacker at some point in the draft.

"As Carroll said to me last week, linebackers in free agency moved off the board slowly because there are some very interesting linebackers in the draft," wrote CBSSports.com draft analyst Pat Kirwan, a longtime Carroll associate.